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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Our Flanders Adventure V: A Place of Sanctuary?

A shattered tree, with the remains of a German gravestone.
One of our most interesting stops on our Flanders adventure was Hill 62, a museum at Sanctuary Wood near Ypres. The museum has many photos of the Great War as well as original artefacts from the battlefields and trenches.  Outside the museum, you can see some original British trenches which were preserved after the war by the Belgian family which owned the land. The site is still littered with shell-holes, and it had rained heavily the night before, so the bottom of the trenches was quite muddy.

Mud was one of the soldiers' biggest problems: it made it difficult to move men and equipment as horses and vehicles got bogged down.
A trench full of water.

Hill 62, Sanctuary Wood.
Now we were able to get a real flavour of what life in the trenches must have been like for my great-uncles, although of course we did not have anyone shooting or firing shells at us!

We had to imagine the constant roar of artillery, the smell of cordite and burning flesh - and the rats. It must have been terrifying.

A giant handbag is not very practical for exploring the trenches!
The trenches zig-zagged, so that enemy soldiers who broke in couldn't fire along the trench.

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